Just about now you may be thinking of where to go for your summer vacation. If an east coast holiday is in your future, I have put together my second annual list of favourite places I visited. I hope you enjoy them. (see here for Top 20 Maritime Outdoor Escapes 2017 edition).
20. Bouctouche, New Brunswick.
Just 30 minutes south of Kouchibouquac National Park and and 45 minutes north of Moncton. If you are doing the Acadia Coast Drive make sure to check out Bouctouche. Here the Irving Eco-Center boasts great bird-watching and wildlife. Meander along the boardwalk perched above the sand dunes and watch great blue herons wade in the shallows. Bring a lawn chair and towel – the beach is great too.
19. Port Hastings, Nova Scotia,
Should be your first stop on Cape Breton Island. Not only was the Canso Causeway an engineering wonder of its day, the view to Porcupine Mountain is amazing. Watch the boats pass through the canal between the Strait of Canso and the Northumberland Strait. You can walk out on the rocky point of land and take a photo at marker zero of the Ceilidh Coastal Trail. With a little luck you may see whales, seals, eagles and gulls congregate to feast on what the churning waters serve up. Please see Cape Breton- Rediscovered Part 1 and Cape Breton- Part 2-A Tourist at Home for further reading on the area.
18. Saint John, New Brunswick.
What’s not to love about Saint John? It’s geologically fascinating, historically important, has a trendy nightlife, lots for food lovers to take in and one of the hottest cruise ship ports around. Make sure to check out the City Market, Reversing Falls, Rockwood and Irving nature parks. for further reading:
17. Miramichi, New Brunswick
Miramichi makes it to my list for the second year in a row. I can’t get enough of the beautiful scenery. Kouchibouquac National Park is 20 minutes south for camping and exploring. Hike in the French Fort Cove, catch a boat tour on the Miramichi River from Ritchie Wharf. Learn about the hardships and courage of the Acadian people during the expulsion at Wilson’s Point and Beaubears Island national historic sites. Some of the best salmon fishing there is. Also a stop on the Via Rail train heading both westward and east towards Moncton and Halifax. Further reading. The Miramichi River Route, as I would do it.
16. Heartland, New Brunswick
15. St Peters, Cape Breton, NS.
An epic bucket list “must do” for sailors is to traverse the locks of the canal – within minutes you are transported from the Atlantic Ocean to Bras d’Or Lake. The area was home to the Mi’kmaq people for thousands of years before the first European settlers came in the late 1580’s. There is usually a ceilidh or festival going on somewhere. Nearby Point Michaud beach is excellent. Further posts Cape Breton- Part 3. Mowat and St Peters.
14. Sackville, New Brunswick
This is bird-watching paradise. Land that was drained for farming by the early Acadian settlers has been reclaimed and is now home to a waterfowl park. The surrounding trail conjoins with the trans-Canada trail, so if you choose to you can walk or cycle all the way to Cape Jourmaine. Two national historic sites, several provincial historic sites, home to Mount Alison University and its fantastic library. There are dozens of artisans and craftspeople, it is a cultural playground. For further reading; Searching around Sackville, New Brunswick Part 1
13. Tignish, Nova Scotia
I came here to see Tignish Dock Provincial Park. Henry Ketchum had an ambitious idea to create a rail line and lifting bridge across the Chignecto isthmus from Fort Lawrence on the Bay of Fundy, to Tignish on the Northumberland shore. The ill-fated historic Chignecto Marine Transport Railway ran out of money before it was completed and was scrapped and dismantled to pay creditors. The provincial park pays tribute to its legacy. It has a picnic area, toilets, a red sand beach and a suspension bridge. I loved it.
12. Fredericton, New Brunswick
Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick, is located on the banks of the Saint John River. What it lacks in size it makes up for in amenities. Theater, museums, cafes, pubs, parks, walking and cycling trails. A four-season vacation area. Please see further reading in my post My Fredericton, New Brunswick.
11. Springhill, Nova Scotia
If you have heard of Nova Scotia’s favourite daughter, Anne Murray, then you will want to go through her museum. It has a large collection of memorabilia including photos, accolades and videos from her career. She usually visits town during Old Home Week in August each year. Make sure to go through the Springhill coal mine. You will feel what it was like to go underground in horrible working conditions and understand the fear many endured while being buried alive for days when the mine collapsed in the town’s famous mining disaster in 1958. A poignant exhibit that left me shaken, yet so happy I went.
10 Cape Jourmain National Wildlife Area, New Brunswick
Great hiking along the coastline to the lighthouse. I really enjoyed the views to the Confederation Bridge across to Prince Edward Island. Lots of bird-watching and an excellent interpretive center.
9. Stanhope National Park, PEI
This is the land of of sand dunes, lighthouses and beaches. Go for a dip in the ocean, or kayak along the shore. Photograph birds nesting and endless sunsets. Take a drive along the gulf coast parkway to Dalvay-by-the sea. Only 25 minutes to Charlottetown.
8. Welsford, New Brunswick,
What a hidden gem. Make sure to see to see Welsford Falls and hike Bald Mountain. If you are more daring, rock climbers from all over come here to climb. For further reading; Welsford, New Brunswick. The Best of
7. Victoria, PEI
A small, charming seaside community, old restored homes have been transformed into artists’ shops, chocolatiers, restaurants and museums. Be sure to see Prince Edward Island’s largest tree and if you sure-footed and not afraid of heights, climb the ladder to the top of the local lighthouse.
6. Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Canada’s story started here and Charlottetown does our country proud. Beautifully maintained heritage buildings, seaside views and helpful residents to make you feel at home. Dine al fresco on a patio on Victoria Row before taking in a production at the art center or just people-watch. A very walk-able town.
5. Cape George, Nova Scotia.
Called the “little Cabot Trail” for a reason, the road hugs the bends of the coastline and climbs, affording magnificent views of the Northumberland coast. Hike to the lighthouse. I brought a lunch and enjoyed the views even in early March.
4. Hampton, New Brunswick
This was one of my favourite places last year. It had everything – scenery, a beautifully laid-out town filled with sculptures and historic buildings. The artisan quilt barn tour was fun to follow. Lots of hiking trails and famous for bird-watching. I highly recommend Hampton.
3. Fundy National Park New Brunswick
If they views aren’t enough to bring you here, how about the world’s highest tides, two covered bridges and miles of hiking trails. For a long hike go to Third Vault Falls or for a shorter one try Dickson Falls. There is a golf course, a hotel, cabins and plenty of like-minded folks enjoying nature.
2. Sussex, New Brunswick
I really enjoyed myself in Sussex. Between searching for murals and covered bridges, I also found two of my favourite places to hike. For further reading please read;
1. Fundy Trail Parkway
What can I say about this place? Home to the famous Fundy Footpath – 41 kilometers of wilderness trail along the Fundy coast. Listed as one of the 50 best hikes in the world. The scenery is breathtaking. There are shorter hikes to waterfalls, rock formations and a sea-captain’s grave. for more information please read The Fundy Trail Parkway, Is Not The Fundy National Park.
There you have it, this year’s Top 20. Please join me again as I strike out on new adventures. Until next time, happy travels from Maritime Mac.
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